How to Buy a Used Car

Purchasing a used car is always a worry. It’s not fun to go into a car dealership and be pressured into a car you don’t want by someone trying to make a buck. So how do you purchase a used car without having to worry?

Step 1: Figure Out What Used Car You Want

            You don’t want to invest in just anything; make sure it’ll be something you’ll enjoy! The very first step of buying a car, whether it be new or used, is figuring out what you want. Research the car you decided on and compare it with competitors to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Take into consideration what you need first. Does it need to fit anything specific down the road? No pun intended. What are your likes and dislikes? Do you have growing children you need to account for?

Step 2: Look for a Good Deal, But Don’t Be Fooled

            A big bummer while searching for a car after checking the Kelley Blue Book or NADA is excitedly coming across the perfect car, but then you check the CarFax and it says your car has a salvage title or flood damage. Always refer to the CarFax! You don’t want to be overcharged for a dangerous car with terrible resale value. Usually, cars are given rebuilt or salvaged titles when the insurance totals out the damage to being more of an expense than just replacing it.

Step 3: Shop Certified Pre-Owned or Complimentary Warranty

            One way to tell a trustworthy secondhand car dealership apart from a used car lot trying to make a quick buck is whether they stand behind their service or not. If a car manufacturer or used car lot offers a long warranty or extended service contract, that means their investing trust in their inspection otherwise they’ll foot the bill if something happens. A good idea would be to take the car to a third-party dealer or auto shop where it can be mechanically inspected by an unbiased technician. Examples of car dealers with used car lots like this are Kendall Auto Group with their Kendall Auto Protection Plan or Certified Pre-Owned cars sold with extended warranties and roadside assistance.

Step 4: Test Drive to Make Sure

            A common mistake when buying a car or especially a truck or SUV is taking home your new toy and finding you can’t park it in your garage or driveway! This is easily fixed with either a shorter bed or shorter version of your purchase like a Yukon vs. Yukon XL. Kendall, for example, offers a three-day money-back guarantee for instances like this. A test drive can also reveal certain hidden problems you might face during ownership like not being able to fit in the car correctly if your size doesn’t quite match the vehicle or the seats aren’t as comfortable as you thought they might be. It’s always fun to watch a long chested driver behind the wheel of a Miata as they reach to look over or under the top of the windshield. A crucial part of buying a car is also making sure you see it in the flesh before purchase so you can address anything you couldn’t see in the pictures like a scratch or ding in the door. Walk around the car and have the salesman document anything that needs to be fixed and get it in writing before you sign.

Step 5: Get an Insurance Quote

            Always call your insurance to anticipate what the difference per month might be. It’s always tough to find you can’t afford a car simply because the insurance is more expensive than your previous car. If it does end up being more than you’d like, cross shop! Insurance agents can sometimes find cheaper rates through a different insurance company and that’s okay as long as they’re trustworthy and well-known.

Step 6: Get Appropriate Financing and Check the Purchase Agreement

            Usually, car dealerships have a finance department that can offer competitive rates but it doesn’t hurt to shop around for the right lender yourself. Consider your personal bank or credit union as well as the dealer’s choices because they might have a relationship with a lender that can offer an advantage to help your credit score get a leg up. Before signing anything, always see what you’re being charged and signing up for to make sure you’re not spending money where you don’t need to.